Posted on 9/14/2017
Peary Brug is the Program Director for Psychology at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham. His research focuses on developing a better understanding of the social psychological impact that integration has on majority and minority groups in Western cultures. Before working at St. Mary’s, Peary was at Royal Holloway, University of London as a postdoctoral researcher and at Utrecht University in the Netherlands as a visiting lecturer and researcher.
What led you to choose a career in personality and social psychology?
I actually became interested in personality and social psychology in graduate school. My initial intentions were to go down the clinical/counselling route to become an educational/school psychologist, as I had an interest in working with students who were struggling in (secondary) school environments. I had a particular interest in the academic situation among Black and Latino populations and while looking into this area, I began to take an interest in issues of ethnic identity. As such, I was also able to look into my long standing interest and concern regarding intergroup relationships. I never felt that all these areas (e.g., academic achievement, ethnic identity) were distinct and independent but instead very much intertwined. Therefore, I saw my shift to personality and social psychology as an opportunity to take it all in and then some.
Briefly summarize your current research, and any future research interests you plan to pursue.
Currently, my research is looking at social identity amongst majority and minority citizens in the United Kingdom (U.K.). The U.K. provides an interesting arena in which to look at social identity because the “U.K.” itself is a complicated concept in terms of identity. The pride of being British is not something that is equally shared across the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Each country of the UK (particularly, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) would like to assert its own identity and not to be devolved into a single British identity that some see as being no different than being English. When you add to this an increased number of citizens coming to the UK from former colonies and across Europe, Asia and Africa, the idea of being British becomes somewhat complicated to define and understand. In my current research, I am trying to make greater sense of this, particularly from the perspective of ethnic group members and what it might mean for intergroup relationships in the U.K.
Why did you join SPSP?
I joined the SPSP originally when I thought about attending one of the SPSP conferences; however, I regularly read through and made use of the journals of the Society (PSPB & PSPR). Since first joining, I have continued to renew my membership and encourage my students and colleagues to do the same. I think the membership offers some great resources beyond the annual meetings and journals. However, I have to admit that I do not always make use of all these resources, still it is good to know they are there for me to make use of when I need to.
What is your most memorable SPSP Annual Convention experience?
I would definitely say that my first SPSP Annual Meeting in Palm Springs, CA (USA) in 2006 was my most memorable. At that time the pre-conferences were smaller and more intimate but it was more the wide range of poster presentations and talks that really got me. It can be overwhelming but you learn not to try and take it all in but instead be inspired and encouraged and if possible take advantage of the opportunity to network, making some good professional contacts.
How has being a member of SPSP helped to advance your career?
I am not sure I would say it has advanced my career (yet) but I would say being an SPSP member has enhanced my career. I definitely want to start taking greater advantage of the opportunities and resources the Society provides for it members, as well as be more involved in some of the activities of the Society. I think this opportunity for both career enhancement and advancement is one of the main reasons that I think the membership is so important and valuable.
Do you have any advice for individuals who wish to pursue a career in personality and social psychology?
I think that if the subject area is of interest to you, you should pursue it. While one of the more common endpoints for people who study either personality or social psychology is academia, the knowledge and skills obtained have wide-ranging use outside of academic settings. Therefore, students have a variety of opportunity once they complete their degree studies in personality and/or social psychology, in such areas as government, business and entrepreneurship, NGOs, entertainment, amongst other employment sectors.
Outside of psychology, how do you spend your free time?
Not sure academics are allowed to have free time… However, I am a keen runner (does not mean I am good). I ran the first SPSP Annual Meeting 5K (sponsored by the Health Network), which I believe was in 2012. I can take some pride in saying the first finisher that year was one of my students. I have run the 5Ks at all the other meetings I attended, 2013 and 2016. Aside from running, I enjoy travelling, as a cultural tourist (as opposed to sightseeing) and reading. I have to admit I am a big sci-fi and comics fan, though I have yet to attend a Comic-Con.